Saturday, November 05, 2005

NASA and marginal stupidity

I've been thinking about Kevin V.'s post for a while about the craziness of NASA's manned space program. I've got mixed feelings - Kevin's generally right, but this might also be one of the very few areas where the Bush administration has created a policy improvement over Clinton. They upgraded the manned program from "unimaginably stupid waste of money" to "stupid waste of money." Instead of using the proven-dangerous Shuttle on an indefinite mission to a tin can circling the world for no good reason, we're going to the moon, and possibly Mars - for no good reason.

Where the rubber hits the road in the future, as Kevin implies, is in marginal changes to increase the budget allocations for the manned program. While "stupid" is better than "unimaginably stupid", the "more expensive stupid policy" isn't necessarily better than "less expensive, unimaginably stupid."

Latest news: NASA wants $5 billion more for shuttles. While the extra money goes to the old shuttle program, I think it's needed only because they're phasing out that program. Relevant quote: "Mr. Boehlert said he did not see how NASA could fulfill its commitment to complete the space station, develop a shuttle replacement called the Crew Exploration Vehicle by 2012 and maintain the agency's science programs with the flat NASA budgets forecast for the near future."

Marginal stupidity in budget allocation is rearing its head. We'll see who wins the budget battles, science or stupidity.

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